A Box Comes Home

by John Ciardi

John Ciardi

I remember the United States of America
As a flag-draped box with Arthur in it
And six marines to bear it on their shoulders.

I wonder how someone once came to remember
The Empire of the East and the Empire of the West.
As an urn maybe delivered by chariot.

You could bring Germany back on a shield once
And France in a plume. England, I suppose,
Kept coming back a long time as a letter.

Once I saw Arthur dressed as the United States
Of America. Now I see the United States
Of America as Arthur in a flag-sealed domino.

And I would pray more good of Arthur
Than I can wholly bclieve. I would pray
An agreement with the United States of America

To equal Arthur's living as it cquals his dying
At the red-taped grave in Woodmere
By the rain and oakleaves on the domino.

Collected Poems of John Ciardi

Last updated March 01, 2023